Celtic Calendar

May dew was indeed considered to be holy water. This day was one which saw visits to the holy well. A visitor would walk three times around the well, then they would throw in a silver coin, after which while thinking of their wish they would drink from the well using their hands. When those things were done, they would then tie a bit of colored cloth or a piece of clothing to a branch of a nearby tree. The above had to be done in complete silence as well as when the sun wasn t in sight. The final part of the procedure had the visiting person well out of sight of the well before sunrise. In many places, a May Queen was elected. She was crowned by an elder lady of notoriety, after the new queen and her court had arrived at a predetermined place. Some believe that in the older times, it was the May Queen who lead the hymns to the rising sun, as all the people congregated on the appropriate hill at Beltaine. She is also believe to have led some of the marches in the older times.

Alban Heruin or Summer Solstice 21 June

Lughnasadh or Festival of Light 1 August

August 1 brought the feast of Lugh, the sun god; the feast was called Lughnasadh. The Celtic religion, like that of ancient Egypt, was basically solar-oriented; hence, this festival was an important one. It was primarily an agrarian occasion, mainly concerned with harvest time; it was a relatively happy period in the lives of the Celts, when the most benevolent aspects of the gods were in evidence. We can trace Lugh back to the Pretanic Celts. Here He is the son of Arianrhod and Gwydion. While Arianrhod gave birth to him, Lugh was taken away by his father, who was also his uncle, and raised by him. However, by the old traditions there are certain things that can only be given by the mother. One of these is the name and Arianrhod refused to do so when Gwydion brought him to her. She said, “Why do you prolong my shame? He shall have no name until I give it to him.” The next day Lugh was practicing when Arianrhod remarked, “The fair one has a skillful hand.” Which is the meaning of his name, skillful hand , amongst the Pretani. She was absolutely livid at having been tricked so she swore that he would have no weapons lest they came from her hand, as this is the next thing to come from the mother. Gwydion proceeded to determine how to circumvent this problem and after having done so presented Lugh as a champion in need of weapons. It was only after she had presented them that she realized who he was. She then swore Lugh would have no wife, for this was the last blessing to come from the mother. However, by the work of Math, Gwydion created a woman made of the blossoms of oak, broom and meadowsweet. She was named Blodeuwydd which means flower face . But that is a whole story unto itself and we ll leave it for our Pretani cousins to take those up.

Lugh came to the Gaelic peoples just prior to the Second Battle of Maige Tuired (moy tura). In the lore is told how He came to the Tuatha de Danaan who were being led by the Dagda. He presented himself to be a help in the coming fight against the Fomore. He was asked several times what his skill was. Each time he told of a skill he was told that one of the Tuatha already possessed that skill. Finally he broke the stalemate by asking who amongst the Tuatha had all of the skills, as did he. None did, and so he was not only admitted into the company of the Tuatha but also given the title Il Danach which showed that he possessed all of the skills. When the mighty battle finally roared and Tuatha warrior met Fomore warrior on the field of honor, Lugh had been kept far away from the scene. Finally, going against the wishes of the Dagda, he went out to the scene of battle himself. The battle had gone hard for the Tuatha even though the weapons of Goiban repaired themselves and the healing of Dianecht brought back those who had fallen. Lugh certainly saved that day. For he put out the evil eye of Balor before it could do more damage. Yet even with the help of Lugh, the Tuatha suffered loses with the death of Nuada and others. Lugh became permanent in the company of the Tuatha. Lugh, the God of Light, was eventually wounded himself on the day that is named after him, Lughnasadh. His death, however, comes in the three days preceding the Samhain, when He dies at the hand of his Tanist (his other self) who is the Lord of mis-rule. This is said to be the festival of Lugh. However, this harvest festival usually dedicated to Lugh was very often dedicated to his foster mother Tailltu. There is quite a bit of evidence that Lugh stepped into the shoes once worn by Trograinn, the son of Griann.

This is the time when the warriors returned from the fields of battle to begin harvesting the crops. At this time fairs were held. Traditionally, this was also the time when marriages were contracted. There were many games and races. A great number of records still exist which show that this date held importance across all of the Gaelic lands. One of these, the 12th century manuscript of ‘The Book of Leinster‘ tells of a fair, an ‘aenach‘, held at Carmun in Leinster (probably south of Kildare).

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